All hail the great and powerful kale!
You’ve probably heard a thing or two about kale by now as it’s become as trendy as skinny jeans but did you know that it might be growing in your backyard as we speak? Kale by nature is considered a weed, closer to wild cabbage than any form of domestic plant. But it’s come a long way from it’s shabby beginnings and is now recognized for the nutritional rockstar that it is. Just check out some of kale’s wonderful health benefits:
- Excellent source of vitamins and minerals: A (good for your eyes), K (bone-building), C (antioxidant and immune support), B6 (metabolism), manganese and potassium
- Fibre: One cup contains about 1 g (5% DV) making it a good but not great source of fibre
- Beautifying: Due to its rich levels of nutrients like vitamin A and C, I consider kale as a true beauty food for flawless skin and shiny hair
- Cancer preventing: The sulfur-containing phytonutrients in kale activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver that help neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances
- Protein-rich: Just one cup of fresh kale packs almost 3 grams of protein
- Vitamin C powerhouse: One cup of cooked kale has over 1000% more vitamin C than a cup of cooked spinach and unlike spinach, kale’s oxalate content is very low meaning that the calcium and iron in kale are more easily absorbed
One word of caution: kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetables family and so contains goitrogens. If you are experiencing hypothyroidism I suggest lightly steaming or sauteeing your kale before consuming. Dehydrating will also help lower amounts of goitrogens in kale.
As with most vegetables, there are many different ways to enjoy kale — from salads to stir-fries to eggy scrambles. Adding kale is almost never a bad idea since it instantly healthifies any meal! POW! The bitter taste however can turn some folks away which is why I love my clean n’ cheesy kale chips. You get most of the benefits of kale but in the form of a super satisfying healthy snack. This is exactly why kale chips are all the rage right now! But why shill out upwards of $7 for a small bag when you can make your own awesome chips for a fraction of the price (and ten times the fun!)?
I don’t know about you but I used to LOVE potato chips in my younger days — but of course, potato chips are pretty much void of nutrition so to fill that void I’ve turned to kale chips and have never looked back (and neither have my clients!). Kale chips are crunchy, delicious and strangely satisfying. And best part is that you can eat however many you like without feelings of guilt (or gas!). I like making a big batch from one whole kale bunch and storing them in my fridge or cellar when I’m craving something crunchy. Trust me, this is an investment you will want to make!
But how are they made?
How to Make Kale Chips
First off, it’s super easy! I know it seems intimidating but it’s really not. You can make kale chips one of two ways:
- In a dehydrator
- In the oven
I STRONGLY encourage you to invest in a dehydrator as it makes the process so much easier and the chips come out a lot crunchier. While the top-end dehydrators can run anywhere from $150-$300, you can still pick up a great model for around $70 like my favorite Nesco model. You might be able to find something cheaper on a holiday deal but do your research and make sure it’s a quality machine! Dehydrating is addicting (I love to dehydrate fruits and make my own crackers from juicing debris) so once you start you’ll have trouble stopping meaning you’ll want a machine that can last! PLUS if you dehydrate your kale your chips will be considered RAW and hence more vitamins, minerals an living enzymes will be in tact.
If you do decide to make kale chips in the oven (and I still do all the time) then check out some of these tips to help prevent failure (but be prepared to fail the first few times):
- Make sure your kale leaves are SUPER DRY before you begin
- Spread your kale leaves out in a single layer on a large baking sheet leaving at least a cm or two between leaves
- Ovens vary but aim to bake around 275-300*F
- Flip your chips 10 minutes in and bake for about 25-30 minutes total (i.e., an additional 15-20 minutes after flipping)
- Do not leave the kitchen — keep a close watch on your babies!
- Most importantly: be patient and don’t get discouraged if you fail the first time (failure is part of art)
There you have it: delicious and crispy kale. I will be making a new batch for holiday festivities this year and you should too!
- 1 bunch kale, washed and deribbed
- 1 cup cashews, soaked for about 3-4 hrs
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 1/2 tbsp tamari sauce
- 1/2 tsp pink salt (add more to taste once kale chips are baked/dehydrated)
- Break apart the kale into small pieces -- about the size of a chip -- and place in a bowl. Toss remainder of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add water until you get the consistency of a cheese sauce but not too much because you want it on the thicker side. Pour the sauce over the kale and massage with your hands until all the leaves are covered.
- OVEN: place on a baking tray and bake at 275-300 F for about 25 minutes – flipping over half way through.
- DEHYDRATOR: place on the rack and set to dry at 115-130 F for about 10-12 hours or overnight.